The ancient Egyptian worship of Isis, the gnostic system of Abraxas and many other old systems were very concerned with the balance of ida and pingala. This is very clear from the surviving symbols of these ancient cults. The same applies to systems that are still active, such as the Rosicrucians and Freemasons balance of opposites is of prime importance.
In the story of Genesis in the Bible mention is made of the tree of good and evil and the tree of life. This is open to many different interpretations, but we see the tree of good and evil to be the ida and pingala, the tree of life being the sushumna. This is confirmed by the fact that the cult of ancient Persia, the cult of Mithra, had a similar symbol. It is widely accepted that much of the Bible was influenced by this Persian cult, or conversely that the system of Mithra was influenced by the Old Testament. There is a well-known symbol of Mithra where two snakes – good (ahura mazda) and evil (ahriman) – face each other and devour the cosmic egg. The egg is in the mouth of each snake. The egg represents perfect harmony at the highest level – sahasrara. These two snakes and the tree of good and evil in the Bible, represent the ida and pingala, the opposing forces or aspects of existence. When the egg is consumed by the ida and pingala snakes then there is perfect fusion in the sahasrara, where all opposites are resolved.
This idea of balance is common to every spiritual system. It is symbolized in many different ways. We have only given the exampies that are obviously very similar to the idapingala symbol. There are innumerable other symbols that say the same thing in a different way. An obvious example is the yin-yang symbol of China – the t’ai chi. This is also shown in the previously mentioned diagram in part 11. It has basically the same meaning as ida-pingala. Yin is female and earthly, while yang is male and heavenly. They represent opposite forces or aspects at all levels from the physical to the more subtle, from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic. There is nothing that does not come under their influence. Ida and pingala can be applied to everything. The same is true of yin and yang. Harmony between them leads to health and implies that one’s inner being is perfectly in tune with the outside world; disharmony means illness, unhappiness and disequilibrium in one’s being and relationship with the outside world. When there is harmony and balance of ida and pingala at the highest level, one blends with the sahasrara (oneness). When there is harmony and balance of yin and yang then the result is Tao. Both are beautiful, expressive symbols crossing language boundaries and time. They apply to everyone in any race, place and era. Moreover, words can so easily be misunderstood and corrupted but symbols retain the purity of the meaning, for they only reveal themselves when one is ready to understand.